Merry Christmas and all that junk

It is that time of year (not that you can tell where I am, as I write this it is December 14th and the weather forecast is calling for temperatures of 10 degrees Celcius and -rain-... seriously?). The time where the tree is up, decorations are spread copiously around the house, and gifts are being wrapped.

Here's a compilation of all my Christmas/holiday season posts from the past... two or three years. I think it was mostly last year, but who's counting?

My daughter's Christmas concert with her daycare last year - A summary of my daughter's daycare Christmas concert from 2010. Great fun had by all (at least by me and mine).

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays - Wherein I rant about political correctness and tell it like it is (from my perspective).

The Christmas Tree Is Up! - December 4th and the tree is up (2010) woo hoo, we love Christmas!

Simplify Your Holiday! - A post on adopting simplicity to lower stress during the holidays.

Monday Musing: Gifts - Thoughts on gifts and meanings and all that junk

And of course, my personal favourite:

Why I Will Not Support The Salvation Army - Wherein I vent about homophobia in charities (regardless of whether it is church-based or not) and where to find more accepting charities to share your money with.

That being said, I still love Christmas (regardless of the whole Jesus aspect), and I still believe in the spirit of Christmas. The joy of sharing and giving, and the pleasure of spending time with family, bonding over egg nog (or your preferred drink... mine being coffee), and making a mess in the front hall with all the slush and dirty snow from outside.

It's interesting to note that last year, not one of the four end of December holidays touched one another in terms of timing. This year, however, Hannukah touches all three of the others (Yule/Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa). Go figure!

That being said, I did a terrible job of creating beautiful handmade gifts for anyone this year. As in... it just didn't happen. I'm a pro for procrastinating, that is for sure! On the other side, I did create handmade gift tags. They're super low-tech, but they get the job done! Maybe next year I'll get fancy... I suppose that would involve starting... now.

Any big plans for this winter? Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, or anything else, I hope it's a great one. Also, pray for snow. At least some... come on, this *IS* winter after all!

Much Christmas-y love,


Adventures in Saving Money - Part 2

Here's my first post on Adventures in Saving Money. It is not necessary to read the posts in order to understand the points being mentioned. Thank you.

As a follow up to Part 1 of this non-regular series, I'm going to mention the next best thing that saves me a huge chunk of money on my regular, variable spending.

That single tip is:

Watch The Cash Register As Your Items Are Scanned!

Seriously, it's that simple (again!). I'm a big fan of simple. This simple tip is great for two reasons.

First off, many stores have items that scan in at the wrong price. Even if it's off by 10c, that's YOUR 10c. You worked hard for it, you should have your say as to where it goes. Period. Which means that if an item scans in at the wrong price, worst case scenario, they'll adjust it to the correct price.

Second important (more important) reason is a simple code of practice that almost all retailers in Ontario (possibly all of Canada, and I'm not sure about the States) follow. It's called the Scanning Code of Practice (also referred to as SCOP).

Basically summed up as:

On a claim being presented by the customer, where the scanned price of a product at
checkout is higher than the price displayed in the store or than advertised by the store,
the lower price will be honoured; and
(a) if the correct price of the product is $10 or less, the retailer will give the product to
the customer free of charge; or
(b) if the correct price of the product is higher than $10, the retailer will give the customer
a discount of $10 off the corrected price. (source:$FILE/ct02381e.pdf)
 So any retailer that follows this voluntary code is obligated to give you the first item scanned at the wrong price for free, up to 10$ (or 10$ off if it's over that). Keep in mind that it is up to 10$ off the correct price. So if the object in question is regularly 25$ and it's on sale for 9$, you will get it for free. Alternatively, if the regular price is 25$ and it's on sale for 11$, you will get it for 1$.

Then, if you are purchasing multiple items of the same type, the subsequent items will be price adjusted to the correct price.

Some cashiers/supervisors/managers will roll their eyes and scoff. But seriously, let them. Remember that they are there to provide customer service, and on top of that, they are paid by the hour. *I've been an hourly paid employee, and honestly, I welcomed interruptions like this!* So don't feel ashamed or embarassed, because you've done NOTHING wrong.

So that's it! My second favourite way to save money. It takes a little bit more initiative and less shy-ness. But it definitely pays off! All you have to do is mention it to the cashier as soon as you notice it, and ask if they follow the "Scanning Code of Practice". A lot of cashiers might not know what it is, so you might have to ask to speak to a supervisor. But it is completely worth the time it takes.

Good luck, and happy savings!


Happiness isn't a size

Movies have a pervasive and influential role on the world. Despite the knowledge that a large portion of mainstream movies are fictional, it is hard not to realize parallels and find ideals within their carefully crafted storylines. Romantic comedies make romance and true love seem one funny conversation away, they give you the feeling and impression that carefully crafted lines and slinky dresses will find you the love of your life.
Let me tell you first hand that this is not true. When I found my other half, the one person who completes me, I wasn't even looking. I was with someone else at the time, unhappily that is for certain, and did not even admit the possibility that there were feelings between us. Regardless of this, my future wife made it her mission to make me feel better, to make me smile, laugh, and chat. She was the light part of my days, and even though I didn't know what I was feeling I enjoyed spending time with her. She fell in love with me even though I was unkept, dirty, depressed, and unhappy in life. I didn't wear any fancy clothes or drop any special lines to make her swoon, our personalities just clicked together. I wasn't looking for anyone, and yet I found the most wonderful person of my life.

There is no trick to finding love, it really is as simple as being okay with yourself and just talking to people. You never know who you will find a connection with. If you are a big book nerd (guilty!) or enjoy dissecting insects or really enjoy playing video games or anything else that isn't "mainstream", don't ever think that you can't find someone who is just right for you. Don't ever dream of changing either, because you will never be happy with yourself that way. If you can't be happy with yourself, how could you possibly be happy with someone else?

Mainstream is just what the corporations are paid to sell to us. No one fits into that mould, and no one is supposed to. Why else would they alter and distort photos to emphasize impossible sizes and unrealistic shapes? Because all they want you to do is feel miserable about yourself so that you will spend your money to try and acheive their concept of 'perfect'.

I'm not perfect. My wife isn't perfect. My mom and dad aren't perfect, and M's family isn't perfect either. So what? I'm happy. M is happy. My parents are happy, and so are M's. None of us fit into the carefully sculpted mould of unattainable perfection. And we shouldn't try to either. Why? Because perfection is no fun. If you were perfect, all your energy would be focused on staying perfect. You would be miserable just trying to keep up with all the upkeep and maintenance and dieting, exercise, drugs, makeup, etc and you would never have any time to do anything that you actually enjoy.

Shun mainstream and embrace individuality. You don't have to be a non-conformist to be individual. Don't like thinking you have to fit into a size 3-5 to be healthy? Don't! A healthy weight is different for each person. I've been that size 3-5 girl, and it sucked. I am now happily a size 10 and I feel no shame about that. My body feels great, and yours can to. Give it what it needs, and you will find your perfect weight, size and shape.

When you begin to trust yourself to take care of your own body, you start feeling a great level of confidence. Confidence to just be yourself. That aspect alone will draw people to you, and you will have a great influence on those people. Confidence is an attractive aspect simply because so few people actually possess it. So be true to you, love yourself, and you will find levels of happiness that you never thought possible.

Happiness for all shapes and sizes,


Using Coupons To Save Money - The Eco-Friendly Way

I love using coupons. I never thought I would, because of that horrible stereotype that I believed for the longest time:

"Coupons are always for junk food and stuff no one actually buys, especially not healthy/eco-friendly people"

What a lie! Sure, it takes a bit of digging, and maybe you won't get the same amount of savings that you see on Extreme Couponing (then again, those people are a little bit... ridiculous. More on that later if anyone's interested). But every bit counts when you have to stretch your budget just a little bit farther.

For example, Maple Leaf and Schneider's (both Canadian based countries, correct me if I'm wrong) have a "Naturals" line. This includes deli meat with NO NITRITES and no other nasty preservatives. This is obviously not as good as going to the butcher and getting them to put your deli meats in a reusable container, but not all butchers (especially not in grocery stores) will do that for you anyways. Not to mention, there's no ingredients list on those deli meats... I have found save 1$ coupons on both brands of Naturals products, which I have put to good use.

There are also often cereal box coupons, this past summer there was one for a free bunch of bananas up to 2 pounds. Saved me over 2$ for bananas. There have also been some distributed for strawberries and other fresh foods. For me, I don't always buy cereal boxes, but there have been friends and family of mine that give me theirs. Works great for me, and for them.

The same concept goes for paper products. I have found coupons for save 1$ on Cascades Enviro line, which is the Cascades brand line of post consumer recycled products including paper towels and toilet paper. It's even soft like regular Cascades, so no loss there!

Depending on what your regular products are, it is almost always possible to find coupons for them, and save yourself a little bit of cash. Honestly, if all you do is look, it really doesn't cost you anything anyways!

Anyways, that's my spiel. I use some products that have coupons, and some that don't. I prefer to buy things on sale anyways, and if I have a coupon for that product, all the better! But I don't cry if there's none in my stash for it. I might be a little dejected if I've seen coupons for that product but don't have any... but that's just me!

Happy savings!


A Week Into NaNo and less than 2k words to show for it

National Novel Writing Month. Heard of it? It's a month of insanity, creating a first draft of a (minimum) 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Whaaaaat???

I tried it last year, made it to about 25,000 words before I burned out.

So I'm trying again this year. The get-go has been significantly slower than last year. This time last year, I was sitting around 10,000 words. But today, my total is around 1,500.

Why? It's not that I don't have a good story idea, and I have a pretty good idea of how it's going to pan out.

I don't know. Probably something to do with my chronic procrastination. I really need to get 'er done. I have no excuse.

Anyone else doing NaNo? Tips or tricks to kicking the procrastination demon? Always appreciated!

Yours procrastinatedly,